26 September 2007

PAC summons sec-gen to explain contracts

The Sun

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 26, 2007): The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is summoning Youth and Sports Ministry secretary-general Datuk Mohd Yasin Mohd Saleh to explain contracts which he approved beyond his power.

According to the Auitor-General (A-G)'s Report 2006, Yassin had the authority to sign contracts worth only less than RM5 million on behlaf of the government. He signed off 11 contracts worth between RM7.99 million and RM74.2 million related to the National Youth Skills Institutes (NYSI) project.

PAC chairman Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad said Yassin will be asked to explain the approval of the contracts at PAC's hearing next Thursday (Sept Oct 4).

For the 13 items purchased by the NYSI, like screwdrivers and technical books that the report highlighted, the government paid RM8.39 million more than the market price at that time.

Shahrir said PAC wanted to find ways or recommendations for the government to ensure that those found guilty face punitive action and measures to prevent recurrences.

Speaking after a briefing by Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and senior officers from the audit department to PAC members today, he said PAC will try to go through all issues in the report as long as Parliament is still in session.

Asked whether PAC is satisfied with the A-G's briefing, he said: "The PAC and A-G's Department worked hand-in-hand. The department acts like a secretariat to the committee, making us more efficient. I hope the department will improve its capacity."

The annual briefing covered nine areas of audit, such as building, maintenance and repair, social economy, service, enforcement, tax, procurement, computer system, management on government and statutory bodies' companies.

Asked whether enforcement power should be given to the A-G, Shahrir said by empowering the A-G with enforcement power will require the change of the government system.

"At the moment, we should see how far we can go based on the evidence compiled by the A-G and point an action to be undertaken by relevant enforcement agencies," he said.

Shahrir also said the A-G's report is just an external auditor's report, the ministries and government departments must address its internal weaknesses and improve public governance by strengthening its internal audit to reduce malpractices.

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